Harry Dean Stanton left this world believing that acting was a connection between him and the community, and “with the world at large.” He hoped his work was beneficial to all of us “without being moralizing.”

After 60 years of career and a great history of roles in the seventh art, the Kentucky native Harry Dean Stanton died on Friday due to natural causes. He will be remembered not only for his great appearances in films like in “Paris, Texas,” “Repo Man (both in 1984), and Alien (1979) but also for his music career and incredible passion for art. He was 91.

Harry Dean Stanton. Image Credit: IndieWire
Harry Dean Stanton. Image Credit: IndieWire

Stanton gave a colorful tone with winds of loneliness to many of the characters he performed, with which he created a unique attachment with the public. The artist died on Friday afternoon at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles – according to his agent, John Kelly, in a statement.

His most recent appearances were in the return of the cult classic Twin Peaks and in the HBO show Big Love – which was acclaimed by critique, according to IMDb. Additionally, he also managed to perform one last role in Lucky, whose release date is scheduled for the end of this month.

In music, he developed himself through the years mostly as a singer, although he also played the guitar. His soothing tenor voice was heard in both movies and live stage. He used to perform with his band “The Harry Dean Stanton Band,” formerly known as “Harry Dean Stanton & the Repo Men,” also collaborating with a lot of big-league artists – including Bob Dylan, Bing Crosby, and Kris Kristofferson.

“Harry Dean was a truly great actor and he had a beautiful singing voice,” said Jason Isbell after Stanton’s death. “If you never heard it, sounded exactly as you’d imagine.”

Stanton served in 1940 the Navy in WWII and fought in the Battle of Okinawa.

An exceptional large career in cinema for 60 years

His roles represent a huge part of interest within the world of the cinema. Other excellent works he participated in include Cool Hand Luke (1967), Two-Lane Blacktop (1971), Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979), John Carpenter’s Escape From New York (1981) and John Hughes’ Pretty in Pink (1986).

One of Stanton’s most recent works was in HBO’s Big Love as Roman Grant, a malicious polygamist that had proclaimed himself as a Mormon prophet.

He appeared regularly in his friend David Lynch’s movies. According to the director, he was extremely pleased that such an actor had accepted to work with him. Mr. Stanton was part of Wild at Heart (1990), Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992) and the series’ recent return, the 1993 miniseries Hotel Room, The Straight Story (1999) and Inland Empire (2006). However, he said that he had once denied a part in Lynch’s Blue Velvet, where he would play a serial killer named Dennis Hopper.

Stanton in David Lynch's Twin Peaks. Image Credit: Youtube
Stanton in David Lynch’s Twin Peaks. Image Credit: Youtube

He played an immense variety of roles, starting with simple cowboys and villains. It was because of his hard work that he submerged into the big Hollywood’s life. He managed to be a former criminal bored of his actual lifestyle that forced him to follow the rules, a space traveler in a galaxy of the 22nd-century, a preacher pretending to be blind, a cruel country-music star, a crazed demolitions expert, and more.

In the early 1960s, Stanton roomed in a Laurel Canyon house on Skyline Drive with his good friend, Jack Nicholson – another astonishing actor known for many incredible roles. Their first appearance together was in “Monte Hellman’s Ride in the Whirlwind” (1966), where Stanton learned about “acting natural,” according to himself.

“Harry, I’ve got this part for you. His name is Blind Dick Reilly, and he’s the head of the gang. He’s got a patch over one eye and a derby hat,” said Stanton to Esquire in a 2008 interview, talking about Nicholson. “Then he says, ‘But I don’t want you to do anything. Let the wardrobe play the character.’ Which meant, just play yourself. That became my whole approach.”

Additionally, they both worked together in in Arthur Penn’s The Missouri Breaks (1976), Man Trouble (1992), The Pledge (2001) and Anger Management (2003).

Stanton musical career

After Mr. Stanton joined the U.S. Navy, he became a drama student at the University of Kentucky. He at first was uncertain about picking an acting or music career, but later he thought he could do both if he chose to be an actor.

One of his most proclaimed first appearance in music was on the film’s soundtrack from Ry Cooder, singing a haunting Mexicali waltz entitled “Canción Mixteca” entirely in Spanish. In 1989, he co-wrote and performed one tune — “The Watch” — on the Call’s Let the Day Begin, according to AllMusic.

He loved music since he was a child, but he started playing with his Harry Stanton Band when he was an adult. In 2014, they debuted “Partly Fiction,” soon after the documentary Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter